After running races at Disneyland since 2007 I finally got the chance to run a race at Walt Disney World. The Princess Half Marathon wasn’t my first choice but since all of my runDisney friends and family are women I lost that vote. That’s okay because I was finally going to get my Coast to Coast medal which you get for running a half marathon or greater at each park in the same calendar year. I usually don’t care much for the bonus medals but this one is pretty cool.
I’ve done a few multi-day race challenges before and I’ve had a hard time balancing efforts between the races. This time I was doing the Glass Slipper Challenge which consists of the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. Since men aren’t eligible to receive awards in the Princess Half Marathon I planned to race the 10K and use the half as an easy paced training run. Since the Star Wars Half Marathon I had been doing a bit of speed work on the track and I was looking to PR. The only thing that would work against me was our arrival date and itinerary. We landed in Florida on the Sunday before the race and would spend five days walking around theme parks before the 10K.
Saturday morning came early. As in 2:30 AM early! I had heard warnings from several people that you should try to be on one of the first shuttles to the race from the hotel. At 3:20 we made our way down to the buses which started running at 3:30. The first was full and we hopped right on the second one. No lines, no fuss. A few minutes later we were unloaded in the Epcot parking lot.
After hanging out for about an hour I headed over to my corral. Positioning was a little tricky since there is a corral staging area where they hold you until the group is escorted over to the starting line. A few people jumped in front of me on the way over but I weaseled my way back onto the starting line. After some words from the reigning Miss America, Kira Kazantsev our Fairy Godmother counted down and started the race!
I took off and found myself with an early lead. Maybe a quarter mile later Leonard Jackson shot by me and quickly dropped me. I had no intention of trying to hang with him since he was clearly much faster. My new goal was to try to hold position for the next six miles.
About a half mile in we went under an overpass where Frozen’s Anna and Elsa were hanging out. They were also blowing fake snow which I sucked in and nearly gagged on. At the first mile we did a U-turn and were greeted by the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. No time to wait, I’m late! Shortly thereafter we passed Tinker Bell and her sister Periwinkle. It was fitting to have the frost-talent fairy out on the chilly morning. Yeah, I know too much about fairies. My daughter loves them.
Before I knew it I had hit the 5K mark with a split of 18:47. This is about when the five days of walking around theme parks caught up to me. I slowed a bit on the fourth mile and knew it was going to be a fight to the finish.
About four and a half miles into the race we entered Epcot. I have never been in this park before but I wasn’t able to take in any of the sights. In all honesty between the darkness in the park and focusing on holding it together this portion of the race is a blur. I do remember passing Jiminy Cricket and Marie from Aristocats. Right after exiting the park my bike escort peeled off and I knew it was a sprint to the finish.
I crossed the finish line is 38:33 in second place overall! 9 seconds ahead of the third place finisher. I know this being a women’s themed race the competition isn’t as strong as usual but I’m excited to have placed in such a highly attended race (10,989 finishers). I was a little surprised that no one said anything to me after the race. After walking through the finish chute I asked information about awards and they said it would come in the mail.
Sunday was another early wake up call. For the half marathon the buses started running at 3:00 AM! I think we woke up at 2:15 and headed down to the buses at 2:50. Painfully early is all I really remember. Once again, there was little hassle or wait to get on the bus and we were in the Epcot parking lot in no time.
After hanging out on the bleachers in the family reunion area for about an hour we shuffled over to the corrals. Most people said it was about a mile walk from the reunion area to the corrals and it seemed close to that. Once I located corral B* it was time to wait for another hour for the race to start (*men can’t start in A).
The day’s agenda was vastly different than what I’m used to. I was going to take it easy and stop at most of the character photo stops. With a bunch of races coming up I didn’t want to put myself in a potion where I was spending time recovering from a fast half marathon that didn’t matter to me.
The course would take us through the Magic Kingdom and then back to the finish outside Epcot. Unlike the Disneyland races, most of the time is spent running on roads outside the parks. There is significantly less park time than the Disneyland races but since all of the roads are on Disney property you get character photo stops along the way.
I’m not going to go into much detail about the race since it was mostly uneventful. Instead I’ll just share all my character photos! The only ones I remember I didn’t stop for were Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Sophia the First.
After a short jaunt through Epcot I crossed the finish line in 1:36:57. Good for 15th man overall. I collected my medals including the Glass Slipper Challenge medal for running the 10K and the half marathon and my Coast to Coast Challenge medal for running a half and Disneyland (Star Wars Half Marathon) and this one at Walt Disney World.
It was a great week in Florida and I enjoyed spending time with my family and taking my daughters to WDW for the first time. While I enjoyed the races, I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to run another runDisney race at WDW any time soon. My home park of Disneyland offers a better experience without the huge cost of travel. My only complaint is that there wasn’t an award ceremony after the 10K. I know it isn’t the marque race of the weekend but you would think a race with 11,000 people would have one. I’ll just have to wait to get my trophy in the mail.